You’re never too young to be role models
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You’re never too young to be role models

Kicking off the coverage for the fourth annual edition of ‘HT Youth Forum: Top 30 Under 30’, we profile the first set of achievers from the region. Belonging to a diverse set of fields, they have not only achieved success but also become inpirational figures.

chandigarh Updated: Aug 24, 2014 20:15 IST
Hindustan Times

Kicking off the coverage for the fourth annual edition of ‘HT Youth Forum: Top 30 Under 30’, we profile the first set of achievers from the region. Belonging to a diverse set of fields, they have not only achieved success but also become inpirational figures.

Pretty gritty

Manreet Kaur
24, Hoshiarpur, Actor

Manreet’s real name is Simpy Singh and she comes from a doctors’ family. While her father is an eye surgeon, her mother is a gynaecologist. She herself wanted to become a journalist, but life had other plans for her. While pursuing her graduation from MCM DAV College in Chandigarh, she joined the Theatre Army Group and was bitten by the acting bug. After finishing her graduation, she got into anchoring following which she got a call to appear in a 2010 Hollywood movie, West is West, starring veteran actor Om Puri.

This was followed by a couple of advertising assignments, a Marathi movie and Punjabi films, most recently ‘Yaaran da Katchup’. Her upcoming projects include ‘White Lies’, an international production directed by Danis Tanovic, starring Emraan Hashmi, and an Ameesha Patel production titled ‘Desi Magic’.

What does success mean to you?
When I’m not known by my parents’ name; rather my parents are known by mine.

Who inspires you and why?
Right now, a book I am reading — ‘The Secret’.

What has been your biggest achievement so far?
I belong to a doctors’ family. My mom’s a gynaecologist, dad eye surgeon, brother too an eye surgeon, sister-in-law a radiologist. I never wanted to be a doctor and chose media. The proud look in the eyes of my family is the biggest achievement for me.

3 things that can make India an ideal nation.
Literate politicians; respect for women; zero corruption.

In what way can youth participate in achieving that ideal India?
Form a group, join any NGO that you believe in! I and three friends are planning to join an NGO to protect women from domestic violence, dowry. Just don’t sit idle; get up and do something to serve the country.

Do you think women get good roles, particularly in Punjabi cinema?
Not really. Initially, you have to struggle a lot. You have to take what you get. But once you are famous, you can ask for script changes and good roles.

What is your key suggestion to struggling actresses?
Be professional. Don’t trust too much. And don’t lose focus.

What are your ultimate goals?
To make a mark in Bollywood; and be known for my acting skills, not just glamour.
(By Nanki Singh)

Best of the best, a gold-standard cadet indeed

Lt Vishal Dahiya

21, Jharoth, Sonepat

Gold medallist from Indian Military Academy

Vishal Dahiya, from a Jat farmer family in Jharoth village of Sonepat, studied at Motilal Nehru School of Sports, Rai, Sonepat, and later got his BSc during training at NDA. From a batch of 700 cadets, he got the gold medal during his commissioning from IMA, Dehradun. He is now posted at Jammu.

Define success.
Success is walking from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm until you achieve your goal. Success lies in adapting, improvising and overcoming.

Who inspires you, and why?
My school principal, Capt VK Verma (navy), inspired me to join the National Defence Academy. My parents, my school teachers DD Tiwari, Neelam Dabas, Dr Anju, and swimming coach SS Rana, all helped me a lot in sustaining my motivation.

What’s your biggest achievement so far, and what’s your ultimate goal?
My selection in NDA in the first attempt was a turning point as I was actually considering colleges for a bachelor’s degree. Ultimately, I want to serve the country with dedication and honesty.

Why did you choose army as your career?
Army is all about discipline, respect, loyalty. I was passionate to live this kind of life. In the army, you get the chance to lead from the front. No other profession is as fulfilling.

What was the most difficult part of your training?
I had a sports background, so physical training did not bother me.

Three things that can make India an ideal nation?
Education to all; moral courage to stand up against injustice; and people must not seek cheap popularity.

How can youth participate in achieving that ideal India?
Youth is always considered as the backbone of any country, so it has to be strong. The basic thing youth can do is stay physically fit and mentally strong. Also, try to educate people around them.
(By Sat singh)

Spirit of a sportsman, he has army service in his blood

Lt Vikas Kalkal

22 Imlota, Bhiwani

Silver medallist from Indian Military Academy

Vikas Kalkal is the son of an army major, Tejveer Singh, and had decided to join the services after choosing to study in a military school at Bangalore from Class 6. He had studied at his native village’s school in Bhiwani district before that. Got into National Defence Academy and got a BSc during the four-year training at NDA, Khadakwasla. He has also played under-17 cricket and hockey for Karnataka. He is posted at Samba, near Jammu.

Define success.
If you are able to live the way you want to, you are successful. For me, it was about the love of the olive uniform. However, in the army, as we are trained to fight for the country’s honour, life goes beyond success and failure.

Who inspires you, and why?
The late Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw (8th Chief of Army Staff) is an icon, because he was straightforward and never bowed to pressures. From my father, Major Tajveer Singh Kalkal, I draw a lot of strength.

What’s your biggest achievement so far, and what’s the ultimate goal?
My decision to study at Indian Military School, Bangalore, in April 2003, and my decision to join the army have shaped my life and are achievements. My ultimate aim is to be a credible army officer and a good human being.

How difficult was the army training?
We were put under various mental, physical and psychological tests. For instance, carrying 14kg weight on your back and holding a 2.5kg rifle, we had to cover 70-80 km in one night, running. That was one of the toughest parts.

3 things that can make India an ideal nation.
If people shun the habit of remaining silent observers against injustice, India will wake up to its power. The government should fulfil its responsibility to educate all. Safety of women should be high on government’s agenda.

How can youth help achieve that ideal India?
The youth should take interest in politics and get installed at the helm of affairs rather than only shouting slogans.

Any message for aspiring army officers?
Take your life seriously and pay attention to fitness and language skills. Expose yourself to diverse fields.
(By Sat Singh)

The Guardian

Qurat-Ul-Ain Masoodi

29, Srinagar

Chairperson, Aash, NGO for orphans

Qurat-ul-Ain Masoodi left the lucrative world of engineering for destitute orphans, whose number is fast multiplying in conflict-hit Kashmir. A chance visit to an orphanage and conversation with kids there in 2010 changed the course of Masoodi’s life, and she decided to work as fulltime social activist.

She started voluntary organisation Aash (‘Hope’) that carried out a survey on mental health of orphans and knocked at the doors of the state human rights commission to close down an orphanage exploiting inmates. She opposes the idea of typical orphanages and pushes for community adoption. She is the daughter of teachers, and visits orphanages to know their requirements.

“Some orphans are underfed. There are girls who need special health facilities and cannot speak freely. I talk to them to know their needs,” said Masoodi, who passed out of Srinagar’s SSM College of Engineering. She raises funds from friends and philanthropists and seeks psychiatrist friends’ help for the kids. “I frequently organise painting competitions to know the mental state of these children.”

How do you define success?
Internal satisfaction that comes when one is able to contribute towards society.

Who inspires you, and why?
Mother Teresa. Her definition of humanity did not change with caste, colour, religion.

What’s your biggest achievement so far, and what’s your ultimate goal?
I achieve something every day. Nothing gives me more satisfaction than bringing a smile to the face of an orphan. My long-term goal is to integrate orphans into society.

Three things that can make India an ideal nation.
Humanity, love, and eradication of fundamentalism.

How can youth help achieve that ideal?
Youth has to be the torchbearer and not be gullible. Being a nationalist should not mean being inhuman, and patriotism should not justify bloodshed.

How has conflict hit the destitute in Kashmir?
The last 25 years of conflict have produced numerous orphans in the Valley. Since they are not a vote bank, the authorities’ attention to them is delayed or denied.

How is society’s response towards orphans?
Society is ignorant and least bothered about this section.
(By peerzada ashiq)

Opener on a song

Manan Vohra
21, Chandigarh cricketer

This aggressive opening batsman was one of the two players retained by Kings XI Punjab for the 2014 IPL season. And he proved them right when he won a key Man of the Match against Delhi Daredevils. A child prodigy, he hails from a sporting family, the grandson of former hockey player YP Vohra. Manan has opened the innings also for India under-19, but was unlucky to miss the U-19 World Cup due to injury. He made his first-class debut in 2011-12 and scored his first-class highest of 187 against Jharkhand in Ranji Trophy a week before he was retained by KXIP. He has also represented India-A.

Define success.
It’s about achieving small targets, which help realise big goals. For instance, if I face 200 balls a day and middle all of them, it serves my basic aim of becoming a good batsman.

Who inspires you, and why?
Sachin Tendulkar has always inspired me because, throughout his career, he kept cricket his top priority even when there were so many distractions around.

What’s your biggest achievement?
The India-A tour to Australia.

3 things that can make an ideal India.
Improving literacy rate, especially among people from the weaker economic sections; ensuring gender equality; and healthcare for all.

How can youth participate in achieving that ideal?
It can be done if youngsters, especially those living in cities and metropolitans, voluntarily come forward to educate children and elders living in the rural parts, sensitising them about some of the burning issues of the present times. At a personal level, we should refrain from corrupt practices, such as bribery.

How do you keep yourself grounded with all fame and media glare?
As of now, I don’t make efforts simply because I am not such a big player that attracts too much hype and attention.

And if you were not a cricketer, what would you have been?
I would have trained to become a singer. I love to sing, and do it fairly well!
(By Kuldeep Panwar)

On the fast track

Sandeep Sharma

21, Patiala, Cricketer

He started out as a batsman. But the switch has so far worked for the medium pacer who is now known for his accuracy and economical spells. Sandeep was bought back by IPL squad KXIP in the 2014 season for `85 lakh. He rose to prominence in the IPL with his incisive bowling earning him three Man of the Match awards. His first brush with success came during the 2012 U-19 World Cup when he took four wickets in the final to propel India to the title. He made his first-class debut in 2011. During the 2013-14 domestic season, he was the highest wicket-taker for Punjab with 36 scalps.

What does success mean to you?
It’s about achieving what you strive for, yet remaining humble.

Who inspires you, and why?
I have always looked up to my eldest brother Shatrughan, because of his hard-working nature.

What’s your biggest achievement so far, and what’s your ultimate goal?
Winning the U-19 World Cup two years ago. My aim is to play test cricket for India.

3 things that can make an ideal India.
It is important that everybody can afford education, girls are given greater opportunities to become financially independent, and citizens follow rules and regulations in their day-to-day life.

In what way can youth help in achieving that ideal?
Youngsters should always vote to put an efficient and progress-oriented government in place. At the same time, they should stay away from drugs and other vices.

What prompted you to pick up bowling?
Initially, I wanted to be a batsman. But on the advice of my coach Munish Bali, who noticed my ability to swing the ball, I switched.

When you are not playing, what are your pastimes?
When away from cricket, I spend the time with my family, hang out with friends and see new places, or listen to new and old songs.
(By Kuldeep Panwar)

First Published: Aug 24, 2014 19:22 IST